Nenad works at the National Railways atelier of Republica Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After 12 years of work, he is about to quit his job, and to make up his plans to leave for a work abroad. Nenad is living a dilemma, should he stay and keep trying a life in Bosnia, or should he join other 43.3% of native-born citizens, who already fled the country.
In a direct cinema project, Nenad invites us to follow his thoughts and daily routine. We enter his life and inner monologue as an uncertainty of decision, a dance between text and image, heart and head.
The socio-anthropological context
Nenad is in mid-thirties. Like the most of his “lost” generation, he still lives in the family house and trying to reject the ugly political discourse and failed economic transition that happened to his country. Bosnia-Herzegovina broke up with Yugoslavia in a violent war and complete economic breakdown (1992-1995). Since then the country is struggling with corruption (38th most corrupted) and unemployment among youth (second highest in World).
From other side, there is still very high number of landowners and people develop a special skill not to relay on government. Food is produced everywhere and by everyone. Family tides are very strong and there is almost no homeless in the street. There is a sort of adhocracy in everyday life, very natural and pleasant. Something the develop West is very much struggling to preserve.
Pre-migratory dilemma and its intrinsic aspect – problem in focus
We are used to ask the question what it means for one community to receive migration, but we rarely hear what it means to leave one community in large numbers. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country which already lost 43,3% of its native citizens, due to war, failed political and social transitions, neocolonialism and corruption. It is the far highest number in Europe. Nenad’s planning to leave for the work abroad as well. In particular, he wants to come to Belgium, because a friend of him already lives there, but also because it’s not a common for Bosnians to migrate to Belgium. Nenad does not want to encapsulate within the community of the origin, and his dream is to meet all that European culture, which he had opportunity only to google for. This is his utopia.
The idea is to revisit the use of intertitle in the silent cinema as a discursive voice for the ongoing Nenad’s dilemma to leave the home and country. Chantal Mouffe, Belgian political philosopher, came with idea of illusion of consensus in democracy, suggesting that democracy is a state of various antagonisms cooperating with each other in a state of “constructive” agony. In personal experience, this much challenges an aesthetics of the thought-process, making an impossible consensus of letting its identity behind and becoming a migrant, which was the project’s primary objective.
How complex and traumatic the experience of this inner decision-making is, we can see at the way migrant’s communities wish to keep cultivating they homeland memories and identities. Understanding why the process of “integration” is such slippery terrain, is impossible without understanding how traumatic experience is to leave family, neighborhood, town and language.
Cinéma-vérité – empowerment of co-existing
Starting from “Chronique d'un été” (1961), famed Morin-Rouch’s documentary, the project seeks for its own kind of non-linear direct cinema, in order to unveil the complexity of the eroding social dynamics in the country and region. It is a long and silent process, happening as if some still not well understand tectonics of economics and social affairs. The image lacks a dialogue, we are just passing and observing a society, machinery and characters bent in between a disaccord of past, present and future.
Whenever we turn to, there is a cinematographic conflict between different times, between a utopia of future, entropy of present and upcycling of past. We filmed Nenad’s working day, with no single environment-based interference. Nenad was told only to ignore the presence of camera, and asked to slow down his movement for a minute in three cases. It was our challenge to come as a witness of that space/time and reduce a documentary to a form of direct cinema. I was especially impressed by Morin-Rouch project “Chronique d'un été”, and I already extended the project with five independent video-essays, based on pre-migratory dilemmas.
Rolling, inner monologue
In order to understand how the complexity of external world bounce within inner universe of thoughts, we need to enter an inner monologue, silently, on a back door, and observe that miraculous process of self-realizing. Nenad wrote his inner monologue, following his daily routine at home and work.
Cinematic and textual medium are employed, in order to reflect how the inner world of thoughts and ideals collides with over-accumulated and externally imposed social, economic and political corruption. The form and function of an rolling intertitle, as it was used in silent cinema, has long disappeared as a narrative language. It became an exciting place to revisit, and reemploy in the new context. In the case of the film installation, the idea was to take out those intertitles from the film and to embody them into a rolling led screen text.